I’m relatively new to memoirs. Many years ago, I used to devour autobiographies or biographies, eager to learn more about public figures who may have piqued my interest. I enjoyed the ‘inside scoop’, poring over others’ lives in the context of the particular social and political period. Memoirs, however, are very different. They’re not about setting the record straight or documenting a history. Memoirs are reflective pieces, striving to make sense of memories, events, feelings and experiences.
I first heard Susan Francis speak on the ‘So You Want To Be A Writer’ podcast, having no idea who she was. She was not, at that stage at least, a renowned public figure or celebrity. She sounded very much like a “normal” woman. It was astonishing, then, when she alluded to a number of family secrets and mysteries that would take her not only across the country, but across the world. She faced her fears head-on, aware that she could uncover events that might rattle her to the core and question everything she held dear.
Mark Twain once wrote, “The only difference between reality and fiction is that fiction needs to be credible.” Susan Francis’ memoir is, indeed, incredible. After grappling for many years with notions of identity and belonging, her peace and joy was shortlived, and abruptly followed by a complicated grief. This is so much more than a retelling and unravelling of family secrets, or a recount of shocking events. This is an intimate, honest and at times confronting piece of writing. There is a sense that this memoir was a cathartic experience, and consequently as a reader, I travelled the highs and lows of delight and pain right by her side. Susan Francis might sound like a “normal” woman, but her determination, sense of purpose and courage are extraordinary.
Please find here an assorted mix of what I tend to read - new books, old books, birthday gifts, gifts to myself, books from my to-be-read pile, fiction, non-fiction, memoirs - basically a weird assortment of goodies! My comments here are simply thought-bubbles, rather than formal book reviews. Stream of consciousness. Please share your comments and connect. I love a reading community!